April 24 I Wednesday
2 Samuel 19-20
“Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’” —John 21:17
The disciples took an emotional battering when they deserted Jesus, but probably none more so than Peter. During the Last Supper, he had vowed his loyalty to Jesus, even announcing he would die with Him if he had to. A few hours later, he denies knowing Jesus three times, and the last time was quite adamant and angry. But then, after a night of fishing on the Sea of Tiberias, Peter sees the resurrected Jesus a third time. He quickly wraps his outer garment around himself, jumps out of the boat and rushes to greet Jesus.
After they had eaten breakfast, Jesus takes Peter aside and asks, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love Me more than these?” “More than these” would almost certainly mean more than his boat, his fishing and his livelihood. Peter answers, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” Peter omits the “more than these” and responds with a lower level of love. Agape, the word Jesus used, expresses the highest form of love, but Peter answers with phileo, more of an affectionate brotherly love. Jesus accepts this answer and says, “Feed My lambs.” A second time Jesus asks Peter, “Do you truly love Me?” and Peter answers the same way. Jesus tells him, “Take care of My sheep.” A third time Jesus asks, but this time, He uses the same term for love as Peter did. Peter replies, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Again, Jesus commissions him, “Feed My sheep.”
By the third question, Peter likely thought any hope of serving Jesus had been hopelessly dashed. Acutely aware of his inadequacies and failures, Peter would have believed he simply did not qualify. We all have times when we feel inadequate and any hope of serving Jesus seems absurd, but we learn something from this dialogue. The three times Jesus asked if Peter loves Him may have been to counteract Peter’s three denials, but far more significant is what this conversation reveals about being honest with Jesus. If we are not open and honest, we shut Him out, because acknowledgement of our needs is the very doorway through which Jesus Christ enters and meets those needs. But when we are honest with Him, He accepts us just as we are.
It is ordinary people like Peter with doubts and failures that God looks for, not those who think they have it all together. As Peter did, we come just as we are and submit our lives to Jesus. The more our intimacy with Him grows, the more Jesus expands His commission to us, and He is the empowering to accomplish it!
Prayer: I pray that You will use me, Lord, and keep me humble, open and honest in all my areas of weakness so that Your strength may be revealed in me. Thank You, Lord.